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Federal Monitor Rejects Westchester 'Plan' For Compliance With Desegregation Order

 

 

Anti-Discrimination Center Report Details County's Attempt to Maintain Status Quo

NEW YORK, -- Six months after Westchester entered into a historic federal court Settlement Order to resolve a lawsuit brought by the Anti-Discrimination Center ("ADC"), the federal Monitor overseeing the case has rejected the County's inadequate plan for compliance.  The rejection came hard on the heels of ADC's issuance of "Prescription for Failure," a report finding that Westchester is brazenly refusing to comply with critical elements of its Settlement Order obligations.  The Monitor directed Westchester to review ADC's report, putting the County on notice that he was likely to request the County's response to at least some of the issues raised by "Prescription for Failure."

The Monitor found a "lack of specificity with respect to accountability, timeframes and processes," and further found that the County's submission lacked "any concrete short- medium- or long-term strategies," for how the County plans to develop the affordable housing required by the Settlement Order to foster desegregation in Westchester.  Noting the Settlement Order's requirement that the County use all means, including legal action, to overcome municipal resistance to the goals of the Settlement Order, the Monitor specified that a revised plan "should include a clear strategy for how the County will employ carrots and sticks to encourage compliance by municipal governments" (emphasis added).

The Settlement Order in the case was entered on August 10, 2009, following court rulings that had found that Westchesterhad "utterly failed" to meet its "affirmatively furthering fair housing" ("AFFH") obligations throughout a six-year period, and that every single certification that Westchester had made during that period to the federal government asserting that the County had or would meet those obligations was "false or fraudulent."

"Prescription for Failure" similarly found that Westchester's submission "constitute[s] neither planning nor implementation.  The documents ignore or contradict several fundamental principles and requirements of the Settlement Order, and are clearly designed to maintain the status quo to the maximum extent possible."

Among the key findings of ADC's report:

  • The County sets out three "Guiding Principles & Objectives" for development.  Not one is directed to affirmatively furthering fair housing.

  • Westchester completely ignores its obligation to plan to achieve maximum desegregating effect with the development of the units in question.  The County's submission even fails to acknowledge the existence of segregation or its scope.

  • Westchester completely ignores its obligation to take all actions, including legal action, to overcome the longstanding resistance in the whitest Westchester municipalities to affordable housing development.  The County is even backing away from admitting that it has authority in relation to exclusionary municipal zoning that stymies County efforts to develop affordable housing that would AFFH, authority the Settlement Order forced Westchester to acknowledge.

  • Contrary to the Settlement Order, Westchester tries to create local preferences for the housing to be developed, preferences that not only fail to affirmatively further fair housing but actually perpetuate the existence of segregation.

  • Even though Westchester admits that the "major limiting factor" in implementing required development is "the ability for the developer to gain building approvals from the city, town, or village," the County resolutely treats local zoning barriers as a given, something to be adapted to, rather than – as the Settlement Order insists – barriers to be overcome.

  • Westchester's submission demonstrates a blatant disregard of its obligations as they relate to the affirmative marketing of housing to be developed to income-eligible residents of New York City (the Settlement Order very clearly mandates out-of-County marketing).

Craig Gurian, ADC's Executive Director, stated: "The Monitor was obliged by the Settlement Order to reject Westchester's remarkably deficient submission, and we are glad that he did so.  But vagueness, while a signal feature of Westchester's submission, was only one part of the problem.  It is essential now that the Monitor, in consultation with HUD, require a real implementation plan that actually tries to accomplish the central goal of the Settlement Order: overcoming housing segregation.  Westchester's submission was not a plan that could become acceptable with a few tweaks.  The County must be required to submit a wholesale revision, one that is focused on confronting the exclusionary zoning that is an overwhelming impediment to fair housing choice throughout white Westchester."

The full text of ADC's report is available at: http://www.antibiaslaw.com/prescription and the Monitor's report to the Court rejecting the plan and letter to County Executive Astorino are available at http://www.antibiaslaw.com/wfc.

 

SOURCE Anti-Discrimination Center

RELATED LINKS
http://www.antibiaslaw.com/wfc
http://www.antibiaslaw.com/prescription


STORY TAGS: federal monitor, rejects, rejected, westchester, plan, compliance, desegregation, order, Anti-Discrimination Center, affordable housing, black, african, american, urban, city, minority news, housing news, black news, black radio network, social justice, unfair, racial equality, underprivileged, homeowners, homeownership



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